Jim Letzring is a veteran of the Army National Guard, in which he served for 27 years. While on active duty, Letzring was involved in a motorcycle accident that required a tedious recovery. However, it was during that recovery process that Letzring became interested in mobile sandblasting through commercials for dustless blasting.
That passion grew and grew until eventually, Letzring founded Blitzkrieg Blasting, LLC, a mobile blasting business that will take on any surface preparation needs, ranging from paint removal to coating removal, as well as surface etching. Letzring discussed a wide range of topics with us, including his service experience, how that impacted him as a business owner over the last two years and much more.
What led you to military service?
I wanted to learn construction equipment, mechanic skills and I also wanted the funds to help pay for school.
Tell me a bit about Blitzkrieg Blasting
I thought that it would be an interesting change for starters. I looked into the field, as well as the cost of the new systems, and they were a bit out of my reach at the time. I kept looking at it as an alternative to the current land surveying career that I had been doing for around 20 years at the time.
As life goes on and things change, we ended up moving from Gillette, Wyoming, where we were currently living, back to Bismarck, North Dakota. I was looking around to see how the sandblasting business would be in the area because I was still interested in the change in career from land surveying. After a couple of job changes, as well as a bilateral hip replacement as a result of the motorcycle accident, I worked for roughly six months on a pipeline project that allowed me to save up some money to launch the business.
While still looking at the blasting business, I was able to find a few used units available to begin work. At last, after the pipeline project was done and I was on a temporary layoff (getting some much-needed time at home), I found a used system in March of 2020, right at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.
What were your friends’ and family’s reactions when you told them you were pursuing service, and what were their reactions when you told them about your business?
Many of my friends had already signed up for the National Guard, so my family was fully supportive of my decision to pursue the military. Along with that, everyone was also very supportive of my decision to start Blitzkrieg Blasting. I have actually done blasting for family and friends in the past, as they needed some things painted that I was able to help with.
What do you remember about your first days in service?
The arrival at the barracks on the first day of basic training is something that a person will never forget. The anticipation starts the moment you get in the cattle car, which is a trailer that’s used to transport troops. Another unforgettable moment was when we got off the trailer and received the first introduction in front of the barracks. No matter who you are, you get your butt worked off for what seems like hours.
What do you remember about your first days in Blitzkrieg Blasting?
I was very nervous the first time I helped out my first paying customer. However, not too long after I got there, started getting the hose laid out and getting to work, I felt pretty relaxed. In the end, everything went great.
What made you decide to turn Blitzkrieg Blasting into a career?
In my eyes, I’m still trying to get it to the level of a full-time business for me. The COVID-19 outbreak has been a challenge for the business, just like any other business today. The economic situation brought on by the pandemic has made it very challenging for Blitzkrieg Blasting to fully take off, and is the reason that I still have a full-time job alongside Blitzkrieg Blasting.
Do you think that you would have been able to start a business without your military experience?
Probably not. I don’t think that I would have had the self confidence and drive to at least give it a try and pursue it.
What does a normal day on the job look like for you?
On a normal day, I’m making return calls to potential customers or going to different site locations to blast a variety of projects. To date, I’ve blasted everything from riding lawn mowers and cars, to anhydrous tanks and lawn furniture, among many other items.
How has your service experience changed your business mindset?
It has helped me perfect how I make a plan, schedule my time and how I make a split decision when it comes down to critical thinking and planning.
What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?
I think that the ability to plan has been instrumental in Blitzkrieg Blasting’s successes.
To me, three of the biggest characteristics that symbolize being a veteran are someone who’s hard-working, dependable and honest.”
What made you want to choose Wilton, ND to start Blitzkrieg Blasting?
With Blitzkrieg Blasting being a mobile business, I was actually able to start the business anywhere. We moved after my hip surgery because we had a camper, car trailer and a couple of vehicles that required a bit more outside area and space around our house. That’s how we ended up settling down in Wilton.
What was the hardest challenge for you when opening Blitzkrieg Blasting?
My hardest challenge would probably be just recently. I have been having trouble getting my air compressor repaired for the business. The shop has been working with the manufacturer and they are having a difficult time diagnosing the issue. With that being said, the cost of the repair bill is going to be the hardest challenge since starting for the business.
What does being a veteran symbolize to you?
To me, three of the biggest characteristics that symbolize being a veteran are someone who’s hard-working, dependable and honest not only in their field, but also anything that they set their mind to.
Blitzkrieg Blasting, LLC’s Specialities
- Paint Removal
- Surface Preparation
- Blast Cleaning
- Stone and Concrete Etching
- Graffiti Removal
- And Much More!
Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?
Being able to run your own business gives you a personal sense of
accomplishment. My business may not be to the level of a full-time
What words of encouragement do you have for a fellow veteran nervous about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship—or maybe a veteran who started a business and is struggling?
The only way to know whether or not you can succeed is to start. You’ll never know how it would turn out if you don’t do it. If you can, pursue it as a side job to begin, if possible, while working a regular job. This is what I currently do and it’s a great way to pursue it but not rely on a lot of unknowns. But if you don’t start, you will always be asking yourself if you could have, or what would have happened if you did take that leap.
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